Sunday News Roundup
China's Hony buys Pizza Express for £900m, Sports Direct to embark on Australian adventure, Buy Halfords as cycle fever rages on, Swoop on Co-op, Mothercare fights off suitor with new store shake-up, Cinemas manager? Because hes worth it? Chinese private equity group snaps up PizzaExpress
Chinese investment group Hony Capital has agreed to buy restaurant chain Pizza Express for around £900m. Hony clinched the deal after winning an auction process that attracted rival Chinese investment firm Citic and private equity groups Carlyle, CVC, Advent and former owner TDR. The sale values Pizza Express at around ten times its £88.5m of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
Sports Direct is preparing to head “down under” for the first time as part of a deal with Australian online retailer MySale Group. The London-listed sports retailer, run by founder Mike Ashley, is to open three flagship stores in Australia and one in New Zealand as part of the venture. Details of the partnership – which will also see Sports Direct open Australian and New Zealand websites – could be announced as soon as Monday.
Retail recovery looks to be taking hold in the UK and the turnaround strategy under Matt Davies is well on track. Halfords, the auto care and bicycles group, is enjoying strong bike sales that have been boosted by the Tour de France pedalling its way through Britain. The company has said that bicycle sales increased by 21pc and group sales by 7.9pc during the three months ended June 27. That is a strong start to trading in the new financial year.
The billionaire cash-and-carry king Sir Anwar Pervez has emerged as the surprise favourite to buy the Co-operative Group’s pharmacies for about £600m. The tycoon’s Bestway group has seen off competition from the likes of Lloyds Pharmacy, Alliance Boots and Carlyle, the US buyout firm, and is expected to be named preferred bidder in the next few days.
Mothercare's new boss has launched a 100-day review of the struggling baby products retailer as it attempts to fend off an American suitor. Mark Newton-Jones, who was confirmed as chief executive last week after working on an interim basis for four months, will look at reducing costs, squeezing better terms out of suppliers, securing more exclusive products and cutting store numbers further. Alan Parker, Mothercare’s chairman, is understood to have asked him to report his findings and update the company’s strategy in the autumn.
As he stepped onto the podium for his first results show as boss of Burberry, Christopher Bailey looked calm. Dressed casually in a grey V-neck jumper and blue shirt, black blazer and steel-rimmed glasses, the 43-year-old started by tackling the City’s qualms head on. “As you know, my new role is an unconventional one and my background is not that of a traditional CEO,” Bailey told the audience of analysts and investors in May. “As such I will lead Burberry in my own way, but always guided by a passion for what this unique brand stands for.”
Mail on Sunday
PizzaExpress has been snapped up by a Chinese private equity group for £900 million this weekend. The deal marks one of the largest British restaurant takeovers in recent years and underlines the appetite among Chinese investors for Western businesses. It will also suit PizzaExpress’ growth strategy which has targeted China as a key market for expansion. The chain is being bought by Hony Capital, a £4 billion private equity group based in China, which until now has largely focused on investments in that market.
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